Fact Check

Sambo Beat the Bitch

Sarah Palin exclaimed, 'So Sambo beat the bitch'?

Published Sep 10, 2008

Claim:   Upon learning that Barack Obama had clinched the Democratic presidential nomination over Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin exclaimed, "So Sambo beat the bitch!"

Status:   Undetermined.

Example:   [Collected via e-mail, September 2008]

Is there any evidence or documentation that Sarah Palin used the word "Sambo" in describing Barak Obama at a restaurant?

Origins:   One of the many rumors flying around about Sarah

Palin just after her selection as the 2008 Republican vice-presidential candidate was the claim that, upon having learned about Barack Obama's clinching of the Democratic presidential nomination over Hillary Clinton in June 2008, the Alaska governor had exclaimed, "So Sambo beat the bitch!" — thereby supposedly revealing her true self by incorporating both a race-based and a gender-based slur in the same short sentence.

However, the rumor was based on a single source, a 5 September 2008 blog entry by a writer who describes himself as an expatriate American independent investigative journalist living in Canada, and his report was based on account provided to him by a waitress identified only as "Lucille," who supposedly overheard the governor's comment at an unnamed restaurant somewhere in Alaska:

According to Lucille, the waitress serving her table at the time and who asked that her last name not be used, Gov. Palin was eating lunch with five or six people when the subject of the Democrat’s primary battle came up. The governor, seemingly not caring that people at nearby tables would likely hear her, uttered the slur and then laughed loudly as her meal mates joined in appreciatively.

That's about as far as we can take this one: It may or may not be true, but a definitive determination can't be made since anonymous sources can't be contacted for verification, and no one else has come forward to corroborate the account.

The original blogger stood by his report and explained and defended his use of anonymous sources in a subsequent blog entry.

We note for the record that although the name "Sambo" has long been used as a derogatory term for black Africans or persons of mixed-race heritage, the popular 1899 book Little Black Sambo was actually set in India, not Africa.

Last updated:   10 September 2008

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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